Hoping to make an impression on children, teachers throughout the nation brought the drug-abuse problem to their classrooms as part of National Red Ribbon Week. "You have to say no to drugs, or you'll die," said 6-year-old Antwan Busby, a first-grader at Brooker Elementary School.
The lessons his teacher, Helen Conley, taught left an impression.
Brooker's project was a door-decorating contest, and brightly colored paper and artwork covered doors at the south Brandon school.
Antwan's door had handprints of his peers with "Hands Off Drugs" written above the personalized signature prints. Little red ribbons were tied to fingers as reminders of their promise to stay away from drugs.
"Taking drugs is against the law," said 7-year-old Tonya Pittman, another of Conley's pupils. "And cigarettes ain't good for your body."
Heidi Evans, another teacher, had her door decorated with two marching children. The slogan was "We March to the Smartest Drummer, We say No to Drugs."
One of Evans' pupils, 5-year-old Danny Carlson, said children should not take medicine from other kids because "they don't know what they're taking."
Other doors had slogans ranging from "Use your Brain, Not Cocaine" to "Bubble, Bubble, Drugs are Trouble" to a bear theme stating "We are Beary Special _ Too Special to Take Drugs."
At Tampa Palms Elementary, a schoolwide anti-drug poster contest was held, with winning classes treated to a popcorn party sponsored by the school's PTA.
A visual symbol to a drug-free, healthy lifestyle was the wearing of a red ribbon. Pupils and staff at Citrus Park Elementary were among the schools that shared in the observance.
Teachers, staff and pupils at Lewis Elementary also wore red ribbons, and Wednesday everyone was encouraged to wear red.
"Wear Red Day" also was commemorated Wednesday at Morgan Woods Elementary.
At Town and Country Elementary, the pupils in each class who drew the best poster were awarded a video and a T-shirt.
And, at Robles Elementary, first-graders will wrap their school with a red ribbon at 9 a.m. today.
"It's to keep drugs out of our school and our life," said Betty Baldwin.
Cheryl Ayscue, the guidance counselor at Brooker, summed up the week's activities, saying, "We are really trying to express the importance of a healthy body and a commitment to keeping it that way."